The Philippines’ first-ever tax academy will not only provide the country’s revenue collectors and administrators with continuing training on best practices to hone their competitiveness but will also sharpen their commitment to their profession and raise their ethical standards as well, according to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III.
Dominguez said that on the watch of President Duterte, the Department of Finance (DOF) has taken a “great leap forward” in professionalizing revenue agencies by putting flesh into the Philippine Tax Academy (PTA) eight years after it was envisioned under Republic Act 10143.
“This will be a multidimensional educational and research institution. It will play a key role in the culture change we seek to achieve in our revenue agencies. Through the PTA, we could aspire for a cluster of revenue agencies equipped with the best skills available and imbued with the most admirable ethical norms possible,” said Dominguez during Tuesday’s launching of the PTA at the Ayuntamiento de Manila building of the Bureau of Treasury (BTr) in Intramuros, Manila
Dominguez said that in the course of the DOF’s strategic planning for the PTA, it had envisioned the institution as “a fully functioning and self-sustaining dynamic and innovative center of excellence for capacitating tax and customs administrators, taxpayers and other stakeholders.”
“There is much promise in this institution we inaugurate today. There is much expectation invested in it,” Dominguez said. “I am confident the professional staff we already have will benefit greatly from a culture of constant innovation, ceaseless learning and untiring reinvigoration.”
During the launching, Dominguez also gave an overview of the seven “imperatives” that the DOF should ensure to effectively perform its primary function of funding the government.
These seven imperatives, he said, are to 1) make sure the economy is growing, 2) put in place a fair taxation system to encourage tax compliance, 3) have efficient and honest revenue personnel, 4) guarantee prudent spending by the government 5) ensure fiscal stability in order to achieve high credit ratings that would enable the government to borrow more at lower costs, 6) have an excellent treasury department that knows when, how, and how much, to borrow , and lastly, 7) maintain productive relationships with the country’s foreign funders.
Dominguez said the PTA, as a specialized training facility, will pave the way for the continuing professional development of the country’s revenue personnel by, among others, providing them with “information on best revenue practices in other parts of the globe and raising ethical standards across the board.”
“Our goal, as (Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner) Billy Dulay said, is that the graduates here are going to be better than CPAs (certified public accountants),” Dominguez said.
Dominguez said he expects the PTA to collect information from all over the world and build strong linkages between research and education, while ensuring “complementarity between professional training and professional management.”
He also wants the PTA to be the tool for developing continuing cooperation with other professional associations, development and funding institutions as well as foreign governments.
Dominguez congratulated the first batch of trainees at the PTA, who he said, will set the tone for the quality of training that will be offered by the Academy.
“I congratulate the revenue professionals selected to constitute the first batch of trainees of the Philippine Tax Academy. You will be either the Guinea pigs or the vanguards,” he said. “Either way, you will set the tone for the quality of training that will be offered by this institution. Demand the best and work hard. We want this to be a truly rigorous program.”
According to Dominguez, he expects the professional development of revenue personnel honed at the institution to be based on the highest standards through the development of a “state-of-the-art” curriculum and the recruitment of trainers “of the best quality.”
“Let’s do this and let’s do it well. Our country will benefit from having revenue agencies manned by highly motivated and highly skilled men and women,” Dominguez told officials and employees of the DOF and its attached agencies gathered at the institution’s formal launching.
Among the launch’s activities was an orientation workshop for 52 local treasurers and 130 newly hired employees of the DOF and its attached agencies to familiarize them with the revenue generation functions of the government.
Finance Undersecretary Gil Beltran, who was designated by Dominguez to oversee the establishment of the Academy, said the participants in the inaugural workshop comprise 30 new hires from the DOF, 30 from the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), 31 from the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and 39 from the Bureau of Local Government Finance (BLGF) along with 52 local treasurers.
The PTA’s initial offering covered the DOF’s role in government resource mobilization, which Beltran lectured on, followed by a briefing on the importance of building the capacity of tax administrators to help boost tax collection efficiency, which was discussed by economist Roberto Toso, the chief of party of the United States Agency for International Development (USAid)’s Facilitating Public Investments (FPI) Project in Manila.
Undersecretary Rosemarie Edillon of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) discussed the Philippine Development Plan for 2017-2022 and the Ambisyon Natin 2040, which represents the collective long-term vision and aspirations of the Filipino people for themselves and for the country in the next 25 years.
An overview of the country’s tax policies and administration and the challenges and opportunities facing tax administrators was discussed by Executive Director Trinidad Rodriguez of the National Tax Research Center.
Dr. Rufo Mendoza, a consultant for the PTA, tackled the curriculum development framework for the Academy, while Director Alvin Diaz briefed the new employees on the DOF’s travel guidelines.
A discussion on the other details of the orientation program led by Dr. Chil Soriano capped the PTA’s first day.
Under Republic Act No. 10143, the PTA “shall serve as a learning institution for tax collectors and administrators of the government and selected applicants from the private sector.”
This law provides that “All existing officials and personnel of the BIR (Bureau of Internal Revenue), the BOC (Bureau of Customs) and the BLGF (Bureau of Local Government Finance) shall be required to undergo the re-tooling and enhancement seminars and training programs to be conducted by the Philippine Tax Academy.”
It also requires “all applicants to the said bureaus” “to pass the basic courses before they can be hired whether on contractual or permanent status.”